flying taxi lilium

Electric flying taxi completes first phase of flight testing

Image credit: lilium

A prototype flying taxi from German start-up Lilium has completed early flight testing, reaching speeds over 100 km/h.

The company boasts that its Lilium Jet is the world’s first five-seater, all-electric, vertical take-off and landing jet, and should be able to travel about 300 km on one charge.

The ability to transition from vertical to level flight is what gives the vehicle its significant range advantage, the company said. Its two sets of wings supposedly contribute to much higher levels of efficiency than in aircraft lifted solely by rotors.

During the first phase of testing, the aircraft also successfully completed a range of safety tests, including engine failures and flap failures, as well as fuse-blow-tests on the ground and in the air.


The aircraft, which is controlled remotely from the ground, will now move on to its second phase of testing which will look specifically at how it performs at high speeds.

Commenting on the successful completion of the first phase of flight testing, Leandro Bigarella, head of flight test, said: “The Lilium Jet continues to meet our expectations, delivering excellent in-flight performance and remarkably smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flight. That said, we take a relentless approach to improvement and, like any good testing program, we have had the chance to implement a number of refinements to the aircraft along the way. We are now moving into a critical stage of testing as we prepare for high speed operations and eventual certification by the relevant authorities.”

The test flights come six months after the vehicle staged a test 'hover' at a Munich airfield. For now, Lilium is testing its air taxi by remote control, but it will bring in on-board pilots later to be certified airworthy.

Ultimately, its creators say, the Lilium will be able to complete a 300 km inter-city “hop” in an hour, offering an affordable and emissions-free alternative to travelling by commercial airline, road or rail.

The company has completed a first manufacturing facility in Munich, with a second under construction that will enable it to make hundreds of craft a year by the middle of the next decade.

“What we’re seeing is how well the aircraft can cope with such a failure mode, which ultimately is the critical bit for certification,” chief commercial officer Remo Gerber told Reuters. “The whole system needs to be able to react smoothly if something goes wrong.”

Lilium, which has so far raised $100m in backing from investors led by Atomico, Tencent, LGT and Obvious Ventures, plans to run an airline in partnership with local operators.

The cost of making the aircraft will work out at less than a tenth of the annual cost of running it, Gerber said, adding that Lilium is in talks that could lead to it launching in one or more markets.

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